Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Small Town Experiment Fail

I can't imagine that anyone actually thought this would work.

In a town that small, it's a safe bet that everyone knows everyone, and most are related at least by six degrees. Invariably, anyone who relocates there is going to viewed suspiciously at best, and treated like the outsiders they truly are. Likely few, if any, of the resident's made any meaningful effort to fit in.

I also suspect that the Tristani's didn't go out of their way to fit in. A Lexus, gold chains, and a Rolex are not the order of the day. Might as well drive around with a boom-boom-thump radio in your car while your at it.

I can understand the motivations of the parties involved. Most of us want to live and raise our families in a place where we feel safe. If one is looking to relocate to a more rural surrounding, it isn't necessary to move to the middle of nowhere in a place as inhospitable as North Dakota. Think about it, there is a reason that small towns like Hazelton are dying, as people are forced to move on for better opportunity's. That's not a criticism of small towns, in North Dakota or elsewhere. It is just a stark reality of our times.

7 comments:

Bag Blog said...

I've lived in a similar town. It can be tough, but you can break through the barriers - if you have the right personality.

Buckskins Rule said...

Lou: I agree, and clearly your experience bears that out. I think the problem in this instance is that while the family was looking for the small town life, they were ultimately lured there by monetary promises. Which probably raised the suspicion of the townfolk.

Had they moved there solely for the purpose of seeking a better life, and made a legitimate effort to find their fit in the town, I think this story may have turned out differently.

Rude1 said...

It does take an effort to fit in initially, and I suspect that coming from Miami, they were not equipped to easily let down their guard and get to know folks. However, the townsfolk should have gone out of their way a bit to make them feel welcome. They after all, supposedly wanted new folks to move there.

Buck said...

My landlord in Westby, MT (pop 250 at the time, smaller now, and a scant 500 yards west of the NoDak border and a mile south of Saskatchewan) offered to sell me the 2-BR house I rented in '77 - '78 for $5,000. $5K... less than a good used car, and I'm serious. I turned him down. One winter there was more than enough. The people were friendly enough to us USAF transients but that's prolly coz they knew we'd do our year (for single people) or two (married tour) and be gone.

I have a friend in California who's trying to talk me into going back up that way... she wants to open a restaurant and do that very small town thing again. Heh. No freakin' way. P-Ville, at pop 12K and with MUCH milder winters, fits just fine, thankyaverymuch.

BTW... did ya know that if NoDak seceded from the Union (and kept all the warheads based there) they'd be the world's third largest nuclear power? ;-)

Laura said...

Too cold. Weather and people.

Andy said...

Buckskins, I once moved my family of 5 at the time from a 350,000 metro area to a community 1,000 miles away with about 1500 people spread over half a county.

It was a wonderful experience. The community was open, and welcoming. We had our funny southern accents that the westerners liked. Honestly, we made a full effort to fit in, though. I think we were "cut out" for small town life all along, and just didn't know it.

Some of our greatest friends were made there, and we still communicate now 14 years after we've moved. (E-mail is nice)

I miss it, now that we're back "in town."

Gordon said...

Hazelton is west of the dry line, meaning that dryland farming is a go-broke-slowly proposition. And when you move away from the 160-acres per farm arrangement, there just aren't enough families to support a town.

When you had a lot of Norwegians and Germans willing to risk everything for a chance to chase a plow on their own land, it worked. But their great-grandchildren don't want to work that hard.

And the "cool guy moves into small town and shows them how to be hip and dance well and be open-minded and accepting" storyline only works in movies.

About 25 years ago some academic suggested that places like Hazelton be allowed to return to what it was 150 years ago--a fenceless buffalo commons. There was a lot of controversy over that idea, but he was not far wrong.

It's a shame. Small towns like that are the real America. But the world has changed, and the old model doesn't work anymore.